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What is an Investment Bank?

An investment bank is a financial institution that typically specializes in large, complex transactions, such as underwriting an Initial Public Offering (IPO), mergers and acquisitions, direct investment into start-up firms, or advising large institutional clients on investments/transactions. In short, investment banks help create the bridge between large enterprises and the investor. In that sense, IPOs are one way to accomplish this, but they also help businesses secure financing in other ways, such as through bond issues or derivative products. Continue reading...

What is Investment Banking?

Investment banking activity is different than traditional banking. Investment banks often serve as intermediaries that underwrite a new issue of stock and help to distribute it. They also trade in their own accounts, run hedge funds, and generally invest and speculate in ways that most institutions can’t. Investment banks can assist with new issues of stocks and bonds, purchasing large blocks of them to distribute at a premium. Continue reading...

What are Bank Deposits?

Deposits are cash, checks, and electronic transfers that banking customers put into their personal or corporate bank accounts. Deposits will increase the balance, or pay off a debt, within a bank account. Deposits may not show up on an account balance until they have cleared from the institution or account from which the check is written or the electronic transfer was requested. The types of accounts that can receive bank deposits include but are not limited to checking, savings, and money market accounts. Bank Certificates of Deposit (CDs) can be purchased with an initial deposit that satisfied minimum amount. Deposits are considered liabilities on the balance sheet of the bank, since they are obligated to pay that money out when a customer requests it. Continue reading...

What is a Bank Draft?

The truest definition of a Bank Draft is a check written with the certification of a customer’s bank. Bank Drafts are checks also known as Bank Checks and Cashier’s Checks. They have already been cleared at the writing institution and they provide an extra endorsement that the payment is good. Regular personal checks do not need to be co-signed or verified before they are used as payment, whether or not there is enough money in an account to cover it. Continue reading...

What is Bank Credit?

Bank Credit is the amount of loaned capital that an individual or business is capable of getting from a bank at a given time. This amount will be based on a series of evaluative metrics such as the total amount of assets an individual has, home equity, income, liquid net worth, work history, credit rating, and so forth. An individual can only borrow so much at a time, and, using these variables, a banker can essentially estimate how much credit could be extended that a given individual at that time. Continue reading...

What is a Bank Guarantee?

When a lending institution offers a Bank Guarantee, they are reducing the risk involved in a transaction by guaranteeing payment to the seller. Bank Guarantees often come into play with deals made internationally, where the participants in the deal prefer to have some assurances before they do business. The guarantee acts as insurance to protect the parties involved in transactions where they are not fully able to assess the strength and reliability of the other, such as when small companies bid for projects or when bids for a job come-in from around the world. Continue reading...

What is a Bank Statement?

A Bank Statement is a report issued to an account holder on a regular basis, such as monthly, which contains the account balance as of the date of the report and usually a history of transactions for the period. A Bank Statement will usually be mailed, either by the postal service or electronically, to a banking customer every month. The statement will represent a summary of the bank’s records for the recent month on a particular account, and will probably show all transactions posted to the account, along with the ending balance of the account as of the date of the mailing. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Reserve Bank?

The Federal Reserve banking system was created in 1913, the same year that income taxes were added to the US Constitution. 12 regional Fed banks were established, each of which plays a role in monitoring and implementing interventions to the flow of money in the economy. The Federal Reserve Bank is a 12-bank system in the United States that plays the role of the country’s central bank. Central banks in other countries are typically part of the government and print the actual currency, but in this case the Fed is independent of the actual US government, and the Treasury Department technically prints the money. Continue reading...

What is an Investment Banker?

Investment bankers are proficient analysts themselves, but they have subordinate financial analysts that crunch the numbers for them. They are primarily in the business of procuring clients for deals such as IPOs which their investment bank will underwrite. Investment bankers are employees of investment banks whose role is to acquire clients for the bank and to be the liaison between clients and the back office of the investment bank. Continue reading...

What is a Bank Reconciliation Statement?

It is a useful practice to compare the balance reported by the bank and your internal accounting, in the form of a Bank Reconciliation Statement. Bank Reconciliation is the useful practice of comparing the records of the bank and a business's internal accounting for a specific accounting period. Many businesses produce Bank Reconciliation Statements (BRS) on a monthly basis. There may be pending transactions that have not settled yet, such as outstanding checks to vendors, which have shown up on the business’s books but are not represented in the bank account balance. It can be important to identify which transactions have shown up on the bank’s ledger and which ones have not. Continue reading...

What is a Home Debtor?

In contrast to the term “home owner,” home debtor is reserved for those who will seemingly never be able to pay off the mortgage(s) on their home, or who have already defaulted. Most Americans live in homes that they pay on, but are still primarily owned by the bank that loaned them money. Banks have insurance to protect them against mortgage defaults. Home mortgage loans are the primary way that Americans by homes today. Continue reading...

What Does it Mean to Deleverage?

When a company “deleverages,” it means it is attempting to shrink the amount of debt on its books relative to its assets. In some cases the act of deleveraging requires a company to sell-off/liquidate key assets in order to pay down debt, which ultimately means downsizing as well. A company may choose to deleverage as a strategic tactic, but often times they are forced to as a result of economic circumstances. Continue reading...

What are Risk-Weighted Assets?

International banking regulations set forth in the Basel Accords require that institutions maintain a certain amount of capital relative to the amount of risk-weighted assets (RWA) they have. Conservative investments such a treasury notes have a risk weighting of zero, while corporate bonds have a weighting of .20, and so forth. The exact weighting system is laid out in Basel agreements. The system is designed to reveal a bank’s level of exposure to potential losses, and the capital requirements are there to balance out the risks and to protect the global economy from a meltdown in the financial system. Continue reading...

What is Account History?

Account history is a term especially useful for investment accounts, where transactions beyond a current month or year’s records are useful for reference. Most people are familiar with the transaction history that is available for the current month, quarter, or year on an individual’s savings, checking, and credit card accounts. These are often called “activity ledgers” or something similar. Account history that reaches further back might be more useful for investment accounts, where the current value of investments, and their cost basis, will depend heavily on account history from potentially years in the past. This sort of query can be made easily with online investment account viewing software from a broker or custodian company. Continue reading...

What is an ABA Routing Transit Number?

Most people recognize this as a “routing number.” The American Bankers Association (ABA) assigns a number to each banking institution registered with them, for the purposes of electronic transfers; this is commonly known as a routing number, and officially an RTN, or Routing Transit Number. Consumers and bank clients are familiar with this number as the 9-digit number that appears beside their account number on the bottom of their personal checks. Every client with a particular bank will have have the same routing number on their checks. Continue reading...

What is an Account Number?

An account number is a serialized identifier which is ascribed to a particular account holder or account at a financial institution, retailer, or other entity. Account numbers may include letters or numbers and may be of various length, but they usually exceed 5 characters. An account number is a way for a company or organization to uniquely identify the accounts associated with each individual customer. Continue reading...

What does FDIC Insured mean?

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is a government entity created by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, and its purpose is to protect savers from losing their deposits in banking institutions if the bank becomes insolvent. FDIC insurance only covers certain types of assets, up to certain limits for each person, and only at member banks. FDIC insurance will “make whole” any deposit amount up to $250,000 per person if the banking institution that held the funds declares insolvency. Most banks are members of the FDIC program, which was established by the Federal government in the 1930s. Continue reading...

What are foreign deposits?

Foreign deposits are taken in by international branch locations of US-based banking institutions. Banks are not obligated to pay FDIC premiums on these deposits. Foreign deposits are placed by customers into a US-based bank branch which is located in international locations. Because it is outside of Federal jurisdiction, banks are not subject to the same capital reserve requirements and do not have to pay FDIC insurance on the deposits. Continue reading...

What is the Glass-Steagall Act?

The Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933 to place a dividing wall between commercial banking and investment banking. It was in an effort to protect consumers and the economy from the risks of speculative investment banking. JP Morgan and other large institutions were targeted. The act was partially repealed and replaced in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. After 2008, some opined that the repeal of the original act contributed to the financial crises, and they instituted the Volcker Rule, which reinstated part of the original Glass-Steagall act. Continue reading...

What is Tier 1 Capital?

Tier 1 Capital are the core asset holdings of a bank. They are disclosed, liquid, risk-averse assets, and are used by regulators to evaluate a bank's compliance with capital requirements. Banks lend out about as much money as they can in general. They must have capital on hand to absorb losses and remain solvent. The Basel Accord is an international agreement dealing with capital reserve requirements for banks, enacted after the meltdown of 2008. Continue reading...